Handling morning sickness with a toddler is no joke: You’re sick, you’re pregnant, and your little one still wants to run after the neighborhood recycling truck. You’re trying to match the spontaneous energy of a kid as your body grows, your hormones shift, and your breakfast threatens to make another appearance before lunch. How can you deal with the nausea and the vomiting if you’re chasing after a toddler all day long? Luckily, doctors do have advice on how to cope with, and even help ease, the physical effects (which can then have a positive impact on your mental health, too). But you know what else is a big help? Getting tips and tricks from other parents who have been there and dealt with that.
Why Do I Have Such Intense Morning Sickness?
The term “Morning Sickness” (insert eye-roll here, as the “sickness” hardly adheres to an exclusive morning schedule) usually umbrellas the nausea and vomiting you start to feel before nine weeks of pregnancy, as per The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Doctors have reported that feeling nausea and throwing up during pregnancy can happen to 70% to 80% of those expecting. And while the ACOG shared that, for the majority of pregnant women, it subsides at 14 weeks, many people would likely beg to differ. “What I've learned is that there’s no ‘normal’ level of sickness,” says OB-GYN Dr. Jessica Shepherd M.D. “Some women experience both nausea and vomiting, while others just feel a bit queasy.” Studies have shown that hormones might play a role, but it’s tough to find one common reason why some experience these conditions, and others (blissfully) do not.
When Should I Worry About Morning Sickness?
Consider weight loss during pregnancy a red flag and a prompt to get your caregiver on the phone. If most foods you eat eventually come back up, you might be looking at a future diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a rough condition the ACOG shared can prompt weight loss, lack of fluids, and other complications. But know that while dealing with HG is beyond tough, it’s not the norm. “If a woman can't keep down any food or fluids for 24 hours, or is also losing weight, these could be signs of severe morning sickness that need medical attention,” says Shepherd. “Prescription medications can be taken with any level of nausea, as people have different types of tolerance with nausea.”
So remember, if you’re experiencing morning sickness every day and it’s affecting your life, and eating and drinking feel out of the question, then see your doctor. If you’re in pain, or, as shared the March of Dimes, you’re confused, and you’re not urinating as often, ring your caregivers.
What Do Doctors Say I Can Do To Help Handle My Morning Sickness?
Here are some basics: The ACOG emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated. (Maybe a cute water bottle can help you down those 12 cups a lot faster?) And then there’s your choice of food: Even if the thought of eating turns your stomach, many reports offer the advice of eating little meals throughout the day, rather than, say, sitting down for one big lunch or dinner. There are certain foods that might help you feel less nauseous, such as bland items like toast and baked potatoes. “It is helpful to use the remedies of ginger-based drinks… and eating small bites of food even before getting out of the bed,” says Shepherd.
Now what if you have all-day symptoms and a toddler to look after? “Some of the best ways to combat nausea while taking care of another child is to know triggers for the nausea,” says Shepherd. For example, Shepherd tells Romper: What time of day does the nausea occur? Is it episodic or consistent? When is it the worst? See if you can arrange for some support during those times so you can safely shift your focus and better tend to yourself.
How Do Other Parents Handle Morning Sickness When They Have A Toddler At Home?
If you have guilt over extra screen time, shake it off. From educational iPad sessions to snuggly story time, here are some real-world tips to get you through the sickest of days.
- Elevate Screen-time Whether your baby is learning colors, or learning how to read, they can benefit from finding informative, age-appropriate apps. Turn screen time from a guilty pleasure to an educational tool with reading games, and apps from Sesame Street that heighten language and math skills. So you can sit back for a second while your little one taps away.
- Exercise With Your Toddler Stretching and deep breathing can sometimes help ease body aches and nausea. Why not teach your toddler about practices like yoga, so you can both take calming, relaxing breaks throughout the day? You can access super-fun themed Cosmic Kids yoga workouts on YouTube for stretching and breathing along to stories like Alice in Wonderland and even Frozen. If you have a Peloton bike, the system offers guided Peloton Family classes to which you and your toddler can meditate or stretch together in 5, 10, and 15-minute intervals.
- Get Strategic With Story Time Cozy up in your bed for story time in the morning, before naps, and at night. This trick can allow your body to wake up slowly, or relax throughout the day, as you recline and read to your kiddo. Extra fun is letting your kid come up with a story-time theme for the day (like, say, books about autumn), and letting them pick out theme-appropriate books to read together throughout the day.
- Hold Back The Blame Michelle, a mother of two youngsters, remembers being careful with her words when dealing with her morning sickness around her toddler. “Whenever I did talk [or] complain about morning sickness, I was careful not to say it’s caused by the baby, or it’s because a baby was growing in my belly. I didn’t want [my toddler] thinking the baby was making me sick, [or] having a negative association with the baby [or thinking it was] taking time away from her because I had to lie down a lot.”
Lee, N. M., Saha, S. (2013) Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy. PubMed Central https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676933/
Bustos, M., Caritis, S., Venkataramanan, R. (2018) Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy-What’s New? PubMed Central https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5107351/